Earlier this year, our family of five traveled around the world to visit our dear friends at New Life Homes. Swaziland (now called Eswatini) has held an important place in our hearts since we first visited as college students more than 15 years ago. In 2012, we returned to Eswatini to serve alongside Peter and Mary Jean Kopp for four years. Now, we serve on the U.S. Board for African Leadership Partners.
Much has changed since that first visit in 2005. Most notably, the preschoolers that kept us busy with their curiosity and occasional cheekiness have now matured into young adults with skills, knowledge, dreams, and desires.
While there, Tommy worked closely with the farm management team, which now includes three former New Life Homes “kids” who are now adults contributing their creativity, wisdom, and leadership to make sure the next generation of New Life kids are well taken care of. What a joy it was to work alongside these friends as they asked great questions and demonstrated their interest in continuous improvement.
A highlight for Mandi was meeting with the teenage girls for a night of crafts and a Lectio Divina study on Ephesians 1. This group includes many of the girls Mandi taught at New Life School, and the evening was encouraging. Many of the girls shared their gratitude for God divinely bringing them to New Life Homes, and His care and compassion in giving them a family. “Sometimes we act like we don’t care,” said one of the girls, “But we all can see what God has done and can trust he will keep doing it.”
It was hard to leave these friends after two weeks. It was a joy reconnecting with the children and the housemothers, and it was also a pleasure to reintroduce them to our three girls (now 3, 6 and 7) who have grown so much since our last visit. We enjoyed evening meals with Mary Jean and some of the “big” kids as we continued to dream, plan, and pray for the future of New Life Homes. Here are some things you can be praying about:
- Mary Jean Kopp, who carries much of the responsibility of New Life Homes (not easy), while traveling back and forth from the U.S. several times a year (definitely not easy). I know she would appreciate regular prayer.
- Dreams delayed. Most students received their final examination results early in the year, and it seems like the entire country is in an educational crisis. Mary Jean continues to work hard to enroll students in colleges and universities. Thank you for being a friend and supporter of New Life Homes. Your support is making a big difference in the spiritual, educational, and physical development of these children. They are learning to love Jesus, and your generosity is a beautiful testimony to the love and care of Christ!
Tommy and Mandi Bottoms
African Leadership Partners Board Members